The Circular Economy in the forestry industry in general, and the cork industry, particularly, is shown as an alternative to the traditional model of production and consumption, with the added value of being able to solve much many of the current environmental challenges, channelling new business opportunities and boosting economic growth. The cork is both, innovate and traditional natural material.
Ecorkwaste is a pilot project undertook by a Spanish initiative funded by the EU. It was aimed at demonstrating technical, environmental, and economic feasibility of implementing a system for collecting corks and the “waste”, and evaluation of new alternatives to promote recycling.
By integrated and sustainable management of by-product (waste) as granular media generated from the extraction of good quality cork product, Ecorkwaste demonstrated an innovative hybrid constructed wetland system for the treatment and reclamation of agro-industrial waterwaste. Particularly to the winery industry´s waterwaste, this wetland system would eliminate BDO5 and the cork waste will absorb the recalcitrant organic compounds (polyphenols).
The value of the amount of oxygen that passes through each type of closing wetland allows them to characterize and classify the systems.
The amount of water consumption in the industry would be reduced, not only by potentially re-using the water from the production system but also while achieving higher effluent quality due to the constructed wetlands implementation.
Another goal from Ecorkwaste project is to contribute to the implementation of the Renewable Energy Directive 2009/28/EC, aimed at moving towards renewable energy, by generating electricity through a gasification process. The use of the subproduct in the cork industry is adequate as a substrate to produce synthetic gas (syngas) in a gasification system that would generate electricity inhouse and consequently reducing energy consumption from a non-renewable source.
The business models that Ecorkwaste would help implementing are is mainly circular supply chain and resource recovery.
Ecorkwaste is considered as a complete success and it is now implemented in the winery industry and other waterwaste’s treatment.